Friday, 13 December 2013


Each year, the Trustee’s of the respected international grant making charity the Marchig Animal Welfare Trust, recognise through its top Award individuals or organisations for their outstanding services to animal welfare.  The Trustee’s are therefore pleased to announce, that the recipient of the prestigious “Jeanne Marchig Animal Welfare Award 2013” is Luke Gamble MRCVS, the Founder and CEO of the Worldwide Veterinary Service, based in the UK. 

Luke Gamble established the Worldwide Veterinary Service (WVS) in 2003 to alleviate animal suffering and improve the moral perception of animals worldwide by co-ordinating teams of veterinary volunteers to assist the work of animal welfare organisations; supplying medicines, equipment and advice where they are most needed; and providing sustainable input, building long term relationships and establishing education programmes for the benefit of local animal and human populations. 

Since its inception, WVS has sent many hundreds of volunteer ‘veterinary teams’ to almost every continent of the world, including when required ‘Emergency Response Teams’ to help the needy ‘front line’ animal welfare and protection organisations alleviate the cruelty and suffering inflicted on animals in their areas and thus enable them to cope better with the demands placed upon them.  WVS has also sent to these and other organisations each year, hundreds of thousands of pounds of free veterinary medicines, equipment and materials which it had sourced from supportive veterinary companies. 

Luke Gamble through WVS, established an International Training Centre (ITC) in India, which provides a platform for both vets in India and worldwide to learn best practice techniques in areas such as humane stray animal population control and vaccination programmes.  In addition, this year he spearheaded a new initiative in India entitled ‘Mission Rabies’ which aims to undertake mass anti-rabies vaccination programmes in ten ‘hotspots’ whilst at the same time, running surgical training courses for local vets. The initial goal of this project was to vaccinate 50,000 dogs against rabies in one month.  However, instead with a team of Indian and international vets, local charity workers and volunteers, incredibly over 61,000 dogs were vaccinated in just 28 days.

In announcing the 2013 winner of the Award, the Chairman of the Trustees, Les Ward commented:
“As in previous years, the Trustees of the Marchig Animal Welfare Trust received a large number of nominations for the Award from all over the world.  With so many worthy candidates, the decision was not easy.  Nevertheless, in the end the Trustees were unanimous that the “Jeanne Marchig Animal Welfare Award 2013” should be made to Luke Gamble, the Founder and CEO of the Worldwide Veterinary Service in recognition of his outstanding and tireless practical work over many years in the international field of animal welfare and protection.  Under his voluntary direction, WVS has become one of the most effective international animal welfare and protection organisations.  Through providing much needed support to other organisations throughout the world, WVS is making a huge difference in the fight to help, protect and alleviate the suffering of animals.  Both Luke and WVS are worthy recipients of this Award”.

In receiving the “Jeanne Marchig Animal Welfare Award 2013”, Luke Gamble said:
“It is a huge honour to receive this award and I would like to thank the Trustees very much. The Marchig Trust has long been a source of inspiration to charities and individuals involved in animal welfare around the world, and for WVS to be recognised in this way is a huge lift to both me and the whole team. The pledge is to now direct this fantastic award towards making a difference where it counts – on the front line of animal welfare, championing the united ideals of both WVS and The Marchig Trust.”


International Veterinary Education meeting held in Thailand

Staff at the JMICAWE have just returned from a successful visit to the Kasetsart University in Thailand, where they delivered a workshop on integrating animal welfare and problem-based learning into the veterinary curriculum. Delegates from the Philippines, Singapore and Indonesia as well as from Veterinary schools across Thailand, and also the WSPA, attended the workshop.


The workshop covered essential aspects of international veterinary training including critical thinking skills, problems-solving approaches and providing education for different leaning styles utilising the theme of animal welfare to demonstrate how best to introduce new subjects into exiting teaching.


The workshop also challenged existing paradigms in veterinary education and discussed the importance of animal welfare in practice, exemplified by the use of non-animal models and manikins into the curriculum, something which has been championed by Professor Apinam, the Dean of Kasetsart Veterinary School, and developer of rubber latex alternatives to animals.


Heather Bacon of the JMICAWE said ” We are delighted with the success of the workshop and with the strong focus on utilising alternatives to animals in veterinary teaching that we found at Kasetsart. Through our collaborative activities, Professor Apinam in Thailand has already sent some of his models to our colleagues in veterinary schools in China, and we at the JMICAWE hope to continue to support these collaborations across Asia”.

Tuesday, 10 December 2013

Congratulations to our MSc Animal Behaviour & Welfare graduates

Congratulations to our MSc Applied Animal Behaviour and Animal Welfare students of 2012-13 who graduated recently. 
It was a fantastic ceremony in the amazing McEwan Hall, with everyone enjoying wearing their gowns, being presented with their certificates and even singing along with the Graduation Choir! 
Following post ceremony celebrations with numerous photos being taken and many hugs being given from proud families and friends (and equally proud staff members) - we all headed off to the beautiful Playfair Library for a Graduation Lunch. 
Well done to everyone.
Dr Susan Jarvis
Programme Director


Tuesday, 26 November 2013

'Farmed Salmon – Scotland’s largest agricultural export. But what about their welfare?'

Prof Jimmy Turnbull gave an excellent seminar here at the Vet School recently.   His talk was entitled 'Farmed Salmon – Scotland’s largest agricultural export.  But what about their welfare?'.   Jimmy gave us an overview of the Salmon Industry within Scotland including the production and management systems used, the training of staff in animal welfare, environmental and predation issues and welfare accreditation schemes within the industry. 

He then moved on to discuss many of the welfare issues that are of concern within the industry such as the effects of repeated handling, conspecific aggression, crowding, feeding methods and feed restriction, as well as issues related to disease and at the time of slaughter.  He presented scientific findings in relation to these welfare issues such as whether salmon show preference for shade, and the finding that crowding and feed restriction can lead to increased conspecific aggression.  We also talked about the importance of temperature gradients within the environment in enabling fish to cope better with disease challenges.

Although in animal welfare research, animal based measures are normally recorded at the individual level, we spent quite a bit of time discussing the difficulties of this approach in fish, and that in fish it is more practical to record welfare outcomes at the population level. 

Overall there are lots of challenges facing us in terms of fish welfare – how do we assess preference in fish?, can we measure fish welfare at the individual level?, can we develop robust fish welfare assessment tools?  Lots of food for thought.

The seminar attracted many undergraduate vet students, our MSc students, staff and even those from the Scottish Government.

Many thanks to Jimmy for a stimulating presentation

Monday, 18 November 2013

18th CVA Asian Regional Meeting and UoE Conference - Feb.2014

18th CVA Asian Regional Meeting and Conference ,Bangalore India.

The Commonwealth Veterinary Association (CVA) in association with The University of Edinburgh’s Royal (Dick) School of Veterinary Studies, will be hosting the 18th CVA Asian Regional Meeting and Conference on 20 – 24 February 2014, in the NIANP Auditorium, Adugodi, Bangalore, India.

Both Professor Nat Waran and Heather Bacon from the JMICAWE will be presenting at the conference, where a variety of speakers will be covering topics on “Advances in Veterinary Research: Impact and Opportunities”.

Friday, 8 November 2013

4th China Veterinary Conference Champions Animal Welfare

4th China Veterinary Conference Champions Animal Welfare

 Last week the JMICAWE team headed for China once more to support the Animal Welfare session a t the 4th China Veterinary Conference. Accompanied by international colleagues, we shared a range of practical and research experiences relating to both the development of animal welfare in veterinary education and practice and, the influence of evidence-based research on livestock husbandry, transport and food safety, an issue that is currently of enormous importance in China. The conference was supported by the Animals Asia Foundation and WSPA, and attended by colleagues from the SRUC, the World Veterinary Association, the Federation of Vets of Europe, and the OIE.

 By linking Animal Welfare to its practical benefits, such as improved health, improved productivity,  improved food safety and improved research and education outcomes, even those with little interest in the subject may be inspired to develop better practices that benefit animals around China. But that is not to say that there is no interest in developing better practises simply for the sake of the animals – the Chinese Veterinary Medical Association (CVMA) has recently been working with the Ministry of Education to integrate Animal Welfare into the National Veterinary Exam – making it a core subject for all veterinarians in China.

 Over the next year the JMICAWE will be working with the CVMA to develop successful teaching practises and integrate animal welfare throughout the Chinese Veterinary curriculum.



Tuesday, 5 November 2013

Animal Welfare reaches wider audience at Edinburgh University

Edinburgh University Student Zoological Society (EUSZS) monthly presentations

Heather Bacon and Hayley Walters from the JMICAWE have been working with the Edinburgh University Student Zoological Society to spread the word of the JMICAWE and its partners in improving animal welfare around the world.

Last month Hayley presented on Animal Welfare issues in China, highlighting the trade and farming of endangered wildlife, particularly Asiatic black or ‘moon’ bears, caged for years to provide bile for use in Traditional Medicine.

This week (6/11/2013) Heather will present on the range of welfare issues faced by zoos around the world, highlighting the limitations that zoo animals may face in terms of their welfare but also discussing practical solutions that may be implemented to improve zoo animal welfare.

Presentations take place as part of the programme organised by the Edinburgh Zoological Society on Wednesday Evenings at 7pm at lecture theatre 270, Old College, University of Edinburgh.

More information on the EUSZS, which is a  brand new society for all those students and non-students of Edinburgh with a passion for animals, can be found at or email at



Monday, 4 November 2013

Veterinary Technician training in Bosnia

Our welfare veterinary nurse, Hayley Walters, has just returned from a veterinary technician training neutering workshop in Sarajevo Veterinary Faculty in Bosnia. This is the third time Dogs Trust UK have ‘borrowed’ Hayley to assist in their Dogs Trust BH neutering training workshops but it is the first one she has been involved in that was specifically aimed at vet techs.

Dogs Trust have now completed their sixth week long neutering workshops aimed at up-skilling local Bosnian vets in anaesthesia, analgesia and surgical sterilisation  and they are now well underway to neutering and rabies vaccinating some of the 13,000 dogs living on the streets of Sarajevo.

The aim was to up-skill local vet techs to assist those vets who have already completed the Dogs Trust neutering workshop and are now taking part in the mass sterilisation programme. To date over 3,000 dogs have been neutered and returned to the streets but the need for well-trained vet techs became obvious early into the vet training programmes.

Hayley’s role was to teach the delegates the principles of anaesthesia, analgesia, preparation and care of the surgical patient, welfare, care of the hospitalised patient, and care of surgical equipment. It was a very busy week and Hayley was the only international member on the team.

Videos of how to intubate a dog and how to place an intravenous catheter and lectures in all of the most important aspects of surgery were given prior to any practical work taking place. The vet techs then practised intravenous catheter placement skills on a mock vein board which meant that they had their skills perfected before it came to actually doing it on the street dogs that needed to be neutered, and therefore no dogs suffered in the name of training.

“The vet tech delegates were fabulous and very keen to learn and improve their skills in the placing IV catheters, intubation, giving intra-muscular injections, surgical preparation and monitoring anaesthesia,” said Hayley.

She also added, “At JMICAWE we believe that neutering projects must never be viewed as a numbers game. Each of these dogs is a sentient being, with the ability to suffer if anaesthesia is inadequately practiced and welfare is negatively affected by poor management and a lack of knowledge or experience. Whilst population management is hugely important, it is vital that neutering projects focus on the individual’s welfare, and not just the removal of its reproductive organs”.


Wednesday, 9 October 2013

Dr Fritha Langford - part of the Ig Nobel Prize Winning team

Congratulations go to JMICAWE’s Dr Fritha Langford, for being a member of the winning SRUC team that won the 2013 Ig Nobel prize for Probability.

The Ig Nobel awards are for ‘Science that makes you laugh, then makes you think’. The study in question carried out at Scotland's Rural College (SRUC) farms analysed whether the length of time a cow stands up affects the likelihood of it lying down.

Fritha said: “We used pedometer-like sensors attached to the legs of dairy and beef cattle and used the recordings from these to analyse the patterns of cow behaviour. As we shed light on cow behaviour patterns we can then apply this to help pick up potential problems and improve cattle health and welfare”

The team expected to find that, as the cows became increasingly tired due to standing, they would become more likely to lie down. In fact, they found cows that had been standing for six hours were as likely to lie down within the following 15 minutes as cows that had been standing for one hour. In addition, some cows spent much more time standing than others. While the reasons for these variations were not clear, the project identified a scientific methodology for understanding patterns of activity and validated the use of the sensors as a good way to remotely collect behaviour patterns in large numbers of cattle at the same time.

Dr Tolkamp travelled to America to receive the award on Thursday while Dr Roberts will attend the European Ig Nobel Night on Saturday in the Netherlands.

The team celebrated their win when everyone was back together this week.  

 The winning paper can be seen here: Tolkamp, B. J.; Haskell, M. J.; Langford, F. M.; Roberts, D. J.; Morgan, C. A. (2010). "Are cows more likely to lie down the longer they stand?".

Animal Welfare Education Stand proves a great hit with students!

The JMICAWE team ran the Animal Welfare Education interactive stand at the Animal Welfare Showcase event held by SRUC on October the 4th.
Here, the team were able to demonstrate the range of tools that we use for increasing knowledge and understanding of animal welfare worldwide.
The demonstrations included the life-size Dystocia cow and calf, designed to help teach veterinary and animal science students how best to help in difficult cattle births prior to meeting the real thing in the field.
We also were able to show our range of manikins and models to aide teaching of clinical skills and animal handling in the veterinary surgery.
Alongside these physical models, we demonstrated computer based learning materials developed by the Animal Welfare Indicators (AWIN) project that have been built to disseminate animal welfare science to many different audiences, from veterinary students to farmers and other stakeholders.  
Throughout the day the stand was busy with visitors including students from all SRUC campuses, farmers, scientists and industry bodies.


Tuesday, 1 October 2013

Professor Hartung visits Easter Bush Campus - 28 October

We are delighted to announce that Prof Thomas Hartung will be visiting Easter Bush Campus at the end of October.

As part of his visit he will be delivering a presentation on 28 October at 13.30hrs in the Roslin Institute Building. This talk will also be recorded for our online students to access at a later time.

Thomas Hartung, MD, PhD

Thomas Hartung , MD, PhD, is Professor of Toxicology (Chair for Evidence-based Toxicology), Pharmacology, Molecular Microbiology and Immunology at The Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health, Baltimore, and University of Konstanz, Germany; he also is Director of their Centers for Alternatives to Animal Testing (CAAT, with the portal AltWeb ( CAAT hosts the secretariat of the

Evidence-based Toxicology Collaboration ( and the industry refinement working group. As PI, he heads the Human Toxome project funded as an NIH Transformative Research Grant. He is the former Head of the European Center for the Validation of Alternative Methods (ECVAM), Ispra, Italy. He has authored more than 370 scientific publications.

Center for Alternatives to Animal Testing (CAAT)


Animal alternatives used in teaching attract interest from Scottish horse owners

After the popular open evening held in the Spring, the British Horse Society Scotland requested another opportunity for their members to have the opportunity to understand more about the Dick Vet’s approach to teaching the new generation of veterinarians, using innovative teaching models alongside state of the art practical facilities.
Fifty members of the Scottish horse owning public attended an evening of talks and a guided tour of the equine hospital and facilities and had the opportunity to consider the range of services available to them if their horses ever need them. Professor Nat Waran introduced the event and spoke of the commitment to high standards of animal health and welfare which the RDSVS is so proud of, and the establishment of the Jeanne Marchig International Centre for Animal Welfare Education as an integrated part of the Vet school’s work.
Gemma Pearson demonstrated the advanced teaching that could be achieved through the vet school’s investment in animal models and manikins that allow students to learn and practice clinical skills before they experience the ‘real thing’. The new full size horse model has been made so that staff can show students the anatomy of the horse and how different types of abdominal pain can be investigated, as well as allowing them to develop their sense of feel.
Dr John Keen, Head of the Equine Hospital gave an informative overview of the specialist equipment and services available through the RDSVS and through the guided tour, enabled horse owners to see how their horse would be managed if they needed expert care.
Finally the audience were given an interesting talk by Gemma on the use of humane and evidence based approaches for dealing with common problems with equine behaviour.
BHS members were extremely positive about the evening, with one saying, ‘ its really good to be able to see how Edinburgh’s Dick vet school trains their vet students using the latest technology as well as providing them with a positive learning environment so that they really do develop an awareness for their role in protecting the health and the welfare of our horses’.


Rehoming a rescue dog – the highs and lows

As many of you will remember veterinary surgeon Heather Bacon and veterinary nurse Hayley Walters spent their annual leave in a dog rescue shelter in Nakom Phanom in Thailand earlier this year. They were helping to treat over 2,000 dogs that had been rescued from the meat trade industry and were being illegally transported to Vietnam.

The conditions in the shelter were harrowing with many dogs dying of distemper, parvo virus and, more sadly, starvation as competition for food was fierce.
Many dogs that had collapsed from starvation were hospitalised and it was whilst treating the sick dogs in the hospital that Heather and Hayley met two little dogs, which they would eventually bring back to Scotland, they named Mothi and Stewart.

Rescue dogs need us. There are more dogs in shelters than there are people who want dogs. And dogs are sent to shelters for a whole variety of reasons; unwanted puppies, strays roaming the streets, relationship break ups, new baby arrivals, behavioural problems, financial reasons…there are countless explanations of why a dog might end up sitting in a concrete kennel waiting to be part of a family again. It is na├»ve to think that when you rehome a rescue dog it will slip seamlessly into your life and require very little effort from you to make it feel loved and secure. These dogs can come with a whole host of behavioural problems that may have been previously unnoticed by the kennel staff and Stewart was no different!
With a happy disposition and an incredible ability to get every dog and human he meets to like him, Stewart is a joy to own and walk. He is bomb proof. Having grown up on the streets of Thailand, but I suspect semi owned as he loves people, Stewart was exposed to an enormous array of situations and at a very young age. He shows no fear of loud noises, rumbling lorries, motorbikes, big dogs bounding towards him, children, gangs of people, cats etc (although he is a bit wary of donkeys!) so in one respect he is a dream dog. He is also very clever and quick to learn in training sessions, probably as a result of coming from a long line of quick and clever dogs that survived on the streets for long enough to reproduce. ‘Be fast or you won’t last!’ However what he isn’t…. is confident that he won’t be abandoned again and Stewart suffers from separation anxiety. This manifests itself mainly as crying and howling and, more expensively, chewing. Mostly my flat door but he’s had other things as well. This is of course a massive inconvenience to me as it means I will have to eventually pay for the door to be repaired and I am barely able to go out without him but that is not the point. The point is this little dog suffers terribly every time I leave him alone, even if it is just for 5 minutes.

When we take on a rescue dog we must appreciate that they had a whole life before us and we must take the time to understand WHY they do what they do that we find so undesirable. Whether it be aggression toward other dogs, food guarding, howling, door chewing, house soiling, growling at children, carpet digging or constant barking there WILL be a reason for it. As the new owner it is up to us to seek professional help from a veterinary surgeon and/or a canine behaviourist and get these problems treated. It takes time, consistency and hard work and it is often frustrating but it WILL get better if you persevere.
Getting a puppy from a good breeder is always a safer option. You know the dog’s history, the parent’s history, you know how big it will get, what characteristics to expect and you can mould it to exactly how you want it to be. If you get a rescue dog from a shelter then you potentially open yourself up to a lot of extra work. But if you go into rescuing a dog with your eyes wide open, a lot of patience, love and an understanding that many of these dogs are damaged, then you will be more prepared and you will have done a wonderful thing. Rescue dogs make the best pets because they, as anthropomorphic as I’m going to sound, are always that little bit more grateful to be part of a family again.

A great start for our MSc AABAW students

Our 30 new MSc Applied Animal Behaviour and Animal Welfare students are here and have started the Programme.  They have had lots of interesting sessions already and have started their group projects at Edinburgh Zoo.  They are studying Sun Bears, Red River Hogs, Lesser Kudu and more.

We've also had a one night residential where we all got to know each a bit better, did lovely walks, cooked together and even sang songs round a campfire with one of our students playing the ukulele.  A great start!



Zoos - Arks for the future?

Staff at the JMICAWE believe firmly in engaging with all types of industry to promote animal welfare  through education, and influencing policy and practise. This applies even to industries that are sometimes controversial, such as zoos.

Its important to remember that many zoo staff are dedicated to the care of their animals, and this September the carnivore keeping team at the Copenhagen zoo hosted a Carnivore Welfare Seminar. Speaking on topics including veterinary care, enrichment planning, and nutrition, JMICAWE veterinary surgeon Heather Bacon was delighted to see some of the progress made in the Copenhagen zoo in terms of animal enrichment, operant conditioning and the openness of zoo staff to discuss problems and deliver to their animals the best care that they could.

Heather also attended last week’s meeting of the European Association of Zoos and Aquaria, where she presented on her current research into a needs analysis, and development of animal welfare education for zoo keepers.

The meeting highlighted a number of conservation and welfare issues facing the zoo industry including reproductive problems and low breeding rates, and the negative impact of the zoo industry on conservation through illegal wildlife trade. Chris Shepherd of the Wildlife trade monitoring network Traffic, delivered a number of presentations highlighting conservation issues relating to trade across a range of species. This includes the purchase of wild-caught animals from fake ‘captive-breeding’ farms in South East Asia, by EU zoos.

Dr Barbara Mabel of the University of Glasgow presented on a similar theme, highlighting how molecular genetics had indicated the wild-caught origins of many African wild dogs in captivity in the EU, and  recommended against further importation of African Wild dogs from South Africa to boost European stocks, due to the lack of transparency on the dogs’ heritage, and the potential impact on wild populations.

Whilst it is very positive to see the steps being taken by zoos across Europe to invest in greater animal welfare training for their staff, and to implement positive practises to improve the quality of life of captive wild animals, it is important that the keeping of wild animals in captivity is justified and meets minimum conservation and husbandry requirements. Zoos may try to provide the best welfare possible for the animals they house, but if their presence supports animals being traded from the wild, even if through covert, illegal channels, then the welfare of the individuals going through that process will always be severely compromised. It is imperative that transparent and traceable systems are employed by zoos to minimise their impact on free-ranging wildlife populations, and to ensure the welfare of animals within the zoo industry.


Copenhagen zoo animal welfare discussion forum

Monday, 16 September 2013

Friday, 6 September 2013

Animal Welfare Event, Edinburgh - 4 October 2013

SRUC’s Animal Behaviour and Welfare Team are hosting a one day conference which will showcase some of their exciting and innovative research.
Event: New developments in animal welfare research

Location: Roslin Institute Building, Easter Bush Estate

Date: Friday 4 October 2013

Time: 9.30am – 3pm

The event will include presentations on topics including:

Pig aggression: Can we, and should we breed against this intractable problem?

A novel method of measuring hunger motivation in feed restricted broiler breeders: implications and future directions.

Mothers matter: how management of farm animals during pregnancy affects the next generation

The Great Crate Debate: Developments in free farrowing research and commercialisation

Promoting a duty of care towards animals in children and young people

Genetics and animal welfare

Animal welfare and education

Also participating is the Jeanne Marchig International Centre for Animal Welfare Education and the Roslin Institute.
To book your place please contact Sheila Davidson at Please RSVP by Friday 27th September 2013.



Friday, 30 August 2013

Meat Trade Dogs Arrive in Edinburgh! by Heather Bacon

Heather & Hayley are reunited with Mothi and Stewart

For me being a vet has always been an incredibly rewarding career, and I’ve found that I particularly enjoy frontline emergency response work. So I was delighted when the Worldwide Veterinary services and Soi Dogs offered me the opportunity of contributing to the veterinary care of dogs rescued from the meat trade in Thailand.

 Over 2,000 dogs were rescued at the Thai border en route to dog meat restaurants in Vietnam. The unlicensed export of dogs from Thailand is illegal, but unfortunately a thriving illegal trade exists. Most dogs are community or street dogs, living free-ranging lifestyles but generally owned and fed by village families. These dogs are rounded up in the night by traders, or sometimes sold by their owners. In a place where there is an excess of dogs and a lack of resources, its easy to understand why trade may occur.

 Many groups campaign against the trade in dog meat and a multi-stakeholder organisation, the Asia Canine Protection Alliance has recently been formed to take a united stance against this trade. There is much debate around the trade in dogs for meat, with opinions ranging from ‘dogs are no more sentient than sheep or pigs – why shouldn’t they be consumed?’ to ‘Dogs are companions and should not be eaten.’ Personally, of course I see dogs primarily as companions – I’ve never lived without a dog in my life. But the rational scientist within me also understands that sheep or pigs are equally as capable of feeling fear, pain and distress and so I cannot draw a line between these species. For me, what is important is that any animal raised for food, is raised in a humane way, able to express it’s natural behaviours, transported humanely, and slaughtered quickly and painlessly with appropriate pre-slaughter handling and stunning. Of course a black market trade in a species not regulated for human consumption fits none of these criteria. And if we were to try and develop humane systems for dog farming and slaughter, how would that be done? A primarily carnivorous, historically predatory species, kept in large numbers, unhandleable and aggressive. The slaughter of such dogs is necessarily brutal.

 Intercepted by the Thai border patrol, the arrival of the rescued dogs swelled the total number of dogs at the Nakon Phanom shelter to 3,049 – in a shelter designed for only 400. Immediate concerns were the triage and treatment of so many dogs, the provion of adequate food and water, and the prevention of infectious disease which would sweep through the overcrowded, dirty pens like wildfire.

Quickly Soi dogs arranged international support and myself, R(D)SVS Veterinary nurse, Hayley Walters, and a team from Humane Society International, all travelled to the shelter to assist. Each day was spent triaging and treating emaciated, sick and dying dogs, in temperatures that were hitting the mid-thirties. The Thai handlers worked tirelessly to catch and bring the dogs to us. Though sadly the catching methods were often harsh. Each afternoon was spent vaccinating a pen of around 150 dogs, systematically working through the pens until all dogs were immunised against parvo, distemper, hepatitis and rabies. Effective disinfection of the pens was established, and supplies of nutritious dog food started to arrive, though we also had to establish additional feeding stations as competition for food was huge, and some dogs were literally starving to death.

One of those dogs was a small black female. Admitted to the vet clinic one morning, she presented with nothing more than severe emaciation. Initially she was unable to keep down solid food as it had been so long since she had eaten.


But after some time on a drip, and with the provision of excellent nursing care, and a cardboard bed from Hayley, she started to look stronger.

 Back in 2008 whilst working for the Animals Asia Foundation in China, on post-earthquake dog rescue, I was fortunate enough to meet and adopt Mathilda, a beautiful, skinny, scarred Chinese street dog, and she accompanied me when I returned to the UK.  Initially a fairly unattractive emaciated dog, Mathilda has blossomed to the extent that she recently beat around 30,000 other entries to with a Petplan photo competition and appeared on a national advert. But one of my biggest worries has always been that Mathilda was lonely, going from a life in China where she had lots of dog friends, to one in Scotland where she had much fewer, and I knew that this Thai trip may give me the opportunity to find a new friend for her.

I know that generally not a vast number of meat trade dogs get rehomed – many are condemned to lives in shelters with little human contact, and significant competition for food and resources. If I was to take a dog from Nakom Phanong, I wanted it to be a dog that really wouldn’t cope in a shelter. But also, one that wouldn’t appeal  to other adopters (which ruled out the cute fluffy ones). Generally black dogs are much less likely to be adopted – they’re perceived as ‘common’ and its more difficult to see their facial expressions. But, if you look closely, you can see they’re pretty cute!

This skinny little black dog caught my eye. Right from the start she seized every opportunity we gave her. Hungry for life but simply unable to cope against many much bigger dogs, she was starving to death, and a high risk of infectious disease. As a nondescript skinny little black dog, her chances of adoption elsewhere would be virtually zero. As I started to spend more time with her, Hayley rolled her eyes “Once again Heather you’ve chosen the ugliest dog in the shelter” she teased. Maybe… But ugly is only skin deep.

Named Mothi, which means ‘black pearl’ in Hindi (because oysters are pretty ugly, but have hidden value), she was soon officially adopted and along with ‘Stewart’, Hayley’s chosen dog and began the long journey to the UK. Soi dogs were fantastic at arranging the paperwork, blood tests and care of the dogs whilst we waited impatiently in the UK for their arrival.

And now, they’re finally here! Collecting them at the airport I was amazed that Mothi immediately seemed to recognise me – greeting me exuberantly and responding to her name – though to be honest still not the most attractive dog in the world!

Mothi and Stewart are a wonderful advertisement for Meat Trade dogs – obedient, playful, well socialised, and bomb-proof after their mass exposure to pretty much anything and everything you could think of, they’ve quickly settled into life in Edinburgh and are definitely keeping Mathilda on her toes, enjoying long walks, and lots of cuddles. They’ve even made it to an outdoor Fringe show!

I’m extremely grateful to Soi dogs and Worldwide Veterinary Services for giving us the opportunity to meet and adopt Mothi and Stewart, and to the Jeanne Marchig International Centre for Animal Welfare Education and Royal (Dick) School of Veterinary studies for supporting our annual leave whilst we travelled to Thailand.



JMICAWE is delighted to announce the first recipient of the Animals Asia Scholarship

The JMICAWE is delighted to announce the first recipient of the Animals Asia MSc International Animal Welfare Ethics and Law scholarship. The award will be received by Yang JingJing, known by her English name of Jennie.

 The award allows Jenny to study the field of international animal welfare ethics and law at postgraduate level whilst continuing to work fulltime in her role as a Clinical pathology specialist.

 Previous Jennie has worked as a laboratory veterinarian, responsible for initiating animal husbandry protocols within this challenging environment. She currently works in clinical pathology diagnostics and interacts regularly with small animal veterinarians from all over China.

 Jennie aims to develop written materials and oral presentations on many topics of animal welfare to be used as CPD, including

a. what will be the role for a veterinarian in animal welfare issue

b. how a veterinarian practitioner improve the animal welfare and wellbeing in our society

c. Animal welfare, what is correct and what is impropriate.

d. How to build an environment which fits the requirement of animal welfare?

e. How to educate the pets’ owners to treat their animals correctly.

The staff at JMICAWE and Animals Asia are delighted to welcome Jennie to the student body, and committed to promoting and developing animal welfare education throughout China.

Monday, 26 August 2013

International expertise focuses on zoo animal welfare

Heather Bacon of the JMICAWE recently visited China to teach at the China Association of Zoological Gardens’ (CAZG) Behaviour Management workshop, held at the North-East Forestry University in Harbin, China. This unique project is a collaboration between the University, CAZG and two NGOs, Animals Asia and Humane Society International  to strengthen the understanding of zoo animal behaviour and welfare at zoos across China. The workshop was attended by 36 delegates from 24 zoos across china, and the programme included Chinese experts on animal behaviour, along with the JMICAWE’s Heather Bacon, Twycross zoo’s Julian Chapman, Oregon zoo’s Dr David Shepherdson and Dr Hani Freeman from the Lincoln Park zoo.

 Speaking after the meeting Heather said “Collaborative education projects are incredibly important in sharing understandings, perspectives and expertise. In a controversial industry like the zoo industry, collaboration allows academic expertise, industry management and charitable organisations to work together to improve the lives of animals housed in zoos.”

Tuesday, 20 August 2013

International collaboration strengthens animal care in zoos

Recently one of our NGO partners, Animals Asia, invited six visiting delegates from zoos across China to visit the UK to facilitate knowledge transfer, and develop collaborations. Regulation of zoos in China is limited, however thanks to the work done over recent years by Animals Asia to improve the industry, changes are being seen.  During this visit, the delegates visited Chester and Bristol zoos to develop skills in animal husbandry, animal welfare, conservation education and field conservation.


Heather Bacon of the JMICAWE, greeted the visiting delegates at Chester zoo and along with Dr Sonya Hill of Chester zoo, acted as a facilitator, emphasising the importance good animal husbandry plays in promoting animal welfare, and how this in turn benefits conservation through breeding, and education through improving the visitor experience.


Whilst we recognise that the role of the zoo will always be controversial, it is important that the politics of the industry do not hinder the development of improvements in animal health and welfare. Through engaging with industry and developing educational initiatives, we hope to support improvements to animals in all industries.

Animal Welfare Symposium, Hong Kong - Nov 2013



21-22 NOVEMBER 2013

Professor Natalie Waran, University of Edinburgh, UK will be giving a presentation - “What is welfare & why does it matter?”

Heather Bacon also from JMICAWE at the University of Edinburgh will be presenting on “Animal welfare education”.

Programme and registration:











Monday, 29 July 2013

Successful Equine welfare conference held at the University of Delaware last week

In July last year, more than 250 academics, veterinarians and equine practitioners had arrived at the Royal (Dick) School of Veterinary Studies in Edinburgh to attend the 8th annual international equitation science conference. For this year’s conference it was the  turn of the United States, to which JMICAWE’s Prof Nat Waran was invited to provide a plenary presentation entitled ‘Future proofing equitation -  Advancing Evidence based learning and Practice in Equitation. She was joined by fellow key note speakers, Dr Hayley Randle, Duchy College, Prof Jan Ladewig from the University of Copenhagen in Denmark; Prof Hilary Clayton from Michigan State University; Dr Andrew McLean, Australia Equine Behaviour centre and Prof Paul McGreevy from the University of Sydney in Australia.

With the theme of “Embracing Science to Enhance Equine Welfare and Horse-Human Interactions,” the 9th annual conference brought together equine scientists, veterinarians, students, horse trainers, instructors and riders at the University of Delaware in Newark during July 18-19 with excellent live equitation science demonstrations and discussion, held at Pennsylvania University’s New Bolton Center hosted by Prof Sue McDonnell.

ISES is a nonprofit organization that facilitates research into the training of horses so as to enhance horse welfare and improve the horse-rider relationship.

Photo by Dr Elke Hartmann

Friday, 19 July 2013

Advice to farmers, pet and horse owners in this hot weather

High temperatures and humidity, particularly sudden changes in conditions, can pose a major threat to animal welfare.
The following basic advice is to help farmers, transporters, pet owners and others avoid problems.

Those who look after animals must avoid causing them unnecessary suffering (it’s a legal requirement), and must avoid subjecting them to conditions where this is likely to occur.  It is an offence if the welfare of an animal is compromised as a result of a failure to take appropriate action in response to extremes of temperature.

Farmed animals should be provided with adequate shelter and protection in accordance with the law and welfare codes. In hot weather it is particularly important that animals have access to shade and water. Livestock keepers should inspect their animals often and take necessary action to correct any problems.

Those transporting animals, including agricultural animals, should avoid problems in hot weather. Things to consider include:
  • factoring potential weather conditions into the planning of any journey (for example not loading or moving animals during the hottest parts of the day)
  • improved ventilation of the vehicle
  • increased space allowances
  • providing water and electrolytes more frequently
In addition, contingency plans should be in place for every journey, and are particularly important in hot conditions as delays, which might be relatively insignificant under normal conditions, can become critical very quickly.
Don’t forget your pets in hot weather. Make sure they have plenty of water, ventilation and shade from the sun. Dog owners should not leave their pets in the car.
DEFRA Guidelines